Alrighty, so what may just be the final DLC for the Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer has released, and a ton of things have come along with it. Mostly I’ll be covering the characters and maps, as I haven’t really gotten used to the weapons enough to really give you all a streamlined view of how they work. I do know for sure that they work similar to the prothean particle rifle in that they don’t rely on ammo crates for usage. Otherwise I can tell you that they don’t seem to be up to par, but that may just be a level issue, as I’m comparing them to level X rares and a couple mid-range UR weapons. Anyway, prepare to delve into what I think is the finest DLC Bioware has published to date.
Starting off with the characters. Although a range of them were included in the patches (such as the Krogan Shaman, Asari Huntress, Quarian Marksman, and Batarian Brawler), there are only 4 characters available for use right now, which are the Volus Adept, Volus Engineer, Turian Havoc Soldier, and Turian Ghost Infiltrator. I will tell you all right now that my favorite class of the four, and possibly my favorite class bar none right now has to be the Ghost, but we’ll cover why in a second. I have yet to unlock the adept so you all will have to make due with my reviews for the other three characters for now. I may include his bit in a smaller article later on. Anyway, the three new characters I am covering bring tons of new mechanics to the game, such as the Volus Engineer’s recon mine or the Turian’s new Stim Pack abilities. The recon mine allows the user to place down a mine that can be detonated at the time of choice, with the additional ability to make enemies within range of it take 25% extra damage until it is detonated. The stim pack ability essentially is a pocket spec ops pack, providing the user with instant shields and a slight damage buff if you choose to take those evolutions. While I believe that the stim packs will be receiving a nerf just on the bounds that they are better versions of consumable items, I will enjoy them while they last.
I’ll start this review off by mentioning the Volus Engineer. With his short stature and relatively unimpressive kit, I was skeptical of the asthmatic bowling ball at first. Over time, however, I realized that it just took a lot of getting used to in order to manage the class effectively. The biggest changes to playing such a small character are the inabilities to take cover, and the large changes to how their melee abilities work. The volus regular melee consists of giving the character a roughly three second miniature tac cloak, while their heavy melee seems to be a barrier of sorts that reminds me a lot of the Geth heavy melee. The engineer in particular focuses on the recon mine as its bread and butter ability, with a shield boost ability coming in close second. The recon mine is a ridiculous ability that debuffs anything within its scanning radius, causing them to take an additional quarter of full damage while in range. Although the volus has little to no damage boosting capabilities, when paired with any decent team consisting of pure damage dealers, the ability truly shines, even moreso when paired with the volus’ proxy mine ability or any other debuff such as the Paladin’s snap freeze. This engineer is meant to be played as an aggressive support class, and should not stray from that path lest they fall to their ridiculously low 250 health and 500 shields.
Next off my list is the Turian Havoc Soldier. Sporting an amazing jetpack like ability known as havoc strike and the new turian stim pack ability, this soldier could pass off as a faux vanguard in certain situations. With the ability to dash in and dash out with their naturally far-reaching dodge, the havoc soldier doesn’t seem to have a place as a solid soldier nor a vanguard replacement. The shields of the havoc soldier just don’t justify having the havoc strike ability, especially when you have to burn a consumable stim pack to stay alive most of the time after you jump, even with the increased force. I was completely underwhelmed with this class overall, as the havoc soldier is completely outdone by the much more impressive Ghost infiltrator. I can’t really say much more on the class until I’ve played it more, but with two new classes that I’m finding much more enjoyable, I don’t think I’ll have the motivation to try him out for a little while.
Finally, I’ll cover my favorite class of the Retaliation DLC thus far. The Turian Ghost Infiltrator is an amazing mix of the Geth Infiltrator and the Quarian Male Infiltrator, sporting a really handy tac cloak whose sixth evolution grants an astounding 20% assault rifle damage for 10 seconds after breaking cloak, as well as stim packs and overload…yes, I said it, overload. Now, I’m not sure what Bioware was thinking when they released this class, but rest assured I will be enjoying every last second of spamming overload before mowing down enemies with tac cloak and my trusty harrier assault rifle. With a 6/4/6/6/4 build, I took a little bit of everything, choosing to forgo the excess damage on my stim pack for the more reliable 10% damage on the Armiger Legion passive ability. I also specced 4 points into my fitness just for a little added muscle. This class shines among the ranks of fellow infiltrators for a variety of reasons, the biggest of which is the dodge animation in my opinion. With the exact same dodge as the turian havoc soldier, the Ghost allows for limitless maneuverability while providing insane amounts of damage output, especially after utilizing the cloak. Alongside the harrier and a warfighter package level 5, the added stimpacks and AR damage just put this class miles ahead of anything else in its league, even the GI (though that could be debated).
Moving away from the characters, I’d like to cover the two new maps for a brief moment before delving into some of the new enemy units you’ll encounter along the way to maxing out your manifest. there are two new maps this time around, both of them modified versions of prior maps with a hint of lemon twist. The first is based off of Firebase Dagger, where you’ll encounter a harsh sandstorm constantly surrounding the field that limits vision for the players, but doesn’t seem to have an effect on how the enemies perceive you. The second is based off of Firebase Reactor, where the core can be overloaded to deal damage to anything inside that doesn’t sport armor. These two maps add a little flavor to old maps from before, and we’ve been assured that these two aren’t the only ones that we’ll be seeing. Bioware has confirmed that they will be rotating out maps or merely just including new ‘hazard’ style maps to the selection. They definitely spice up the game, with dagger being one of my favorite maps right now just due to the way it changes the game and how one plays it.
I think my last point of discussion here will be the new enemy faction, featuring the return of the Collectors. Cerberus and the Geth have also received new units to their ranks, namely the Dragoon (which is essentially an enemy Cerberus Vanguard), and the Geth Bomber (which rains down destruction on your team for staying in place, say goodbye FBW farmers). Though those units change up the game a fair amount, I’ll stick to the collectors for now, as I’ve gotten to try them out quite a bit during my mad dash to unlock everything. They are ridiculously hard to fight, though not as broken in comparison to the Geth right now, who just stomp on your feeble attempts to complete objectives. With abominations, Scions, collector troopers and captains, and the dreaded Praetorians, the collectors have lots of tricks up their sleeves to completely render your attempts at beating them futile sometimes. Admittedly, my first encounter with them was through Firebase Glacier, so I can’t really say anything considering how poor that map is to fight them on.
The collectors have the ability to create seeker swarms, which disable your active abilities that have cooldowns for a good 10 seconds if not more, while also creating collector webs, which hinder your ability to move (much like spider webs in Minecraft). Praetorians are the tankiest units of the game, with tons of health and a laser beam reminiscent of a reaper’s that you had to dodge during the campaign. Additionally, Scions launch cluster grenades and fire improved blasts of death similar to the prime laser. Oh, and did I mention that all of their units can become ‘possessed’? When they’re possessed, the collector units gain increased firepower and health, as well as becoming more aggressive in their struggle to make you cry. In particular, the possessed versions of abominations have the ability to explode into miniature nukes upon death, wiping all but the sturdiest of classes even with full fitness. I was taken down alongside every other member of my team the first time we experienced the collector spirit bomb. Try as they might, however, the collectors are not unbeatable. While many of the players complain about their strength, I believe it just takes a little adjusting. I was able to successfully extract against the collectors numerous times with my party on a variety of maps just by getting used to the way they liked to attack.
Overall, the retaliation DLC is everything the community has asked for and more, with a slew of new characters (the volus included), new weapons, mods, gear bonuses, ammo types, and hazard maps. I hope you take the time to check it out after a long hiatus away from the Mass Effect universe, and let me know what you think about it!